Israel agrees to 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas
Posted on Aug 05 2014 | IANS
Jerusalem, Aug 5 : Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas movement starting 8 a.m. Tuesday, Israeli media reported Monday.
Delegates from both sides approved the unconditional truce late Monday in a round of phone calls. During the 72 hours, an Israeli delegation is scheduled to arrive in Cairo to negotiate with the Palestinians, Xinhua reported citing the Walla news website.
The negotiations would focus on the Palestinian demand to remove the siege from the Gaza Strip, and to release 56 Hamas prisoners that Israel incarcerated following an operation in the West Bank in June after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens.
"We've insisted on the Egyptian outline from the first week of the operation," a senior Israeli official said, marking the temporary truce as an Israeli achievement. Another Israeli official told the Times of Israel website that the army is ready to respond forcefully if the cease-fire was broken by Hamas.
Earlier while convening in Cairo, members of the Palestinian delegation said the temporary truce was achieved after back and forth contacts between Cairo and Jerusalem throughout Monday evening.
Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers will still be deployed throughout the Gaza Strip during the ceasefire period and will " continue to operate to uncover underground tunnels," media reported, adding that several vehicles carrying IDF tanks were making their way north after the IDF withdrew most of its forces to the outskirts of the Gaza Strip Sunday.
Earlier, military officials said they are about to destroy the last remaining tunnels, which has been the declared goal for Israel's ground incursion into the strip since July 17.
Israel's ongoing offensive on Gaza, which started on July 8, has left more than 1,820 Palestinians killed, mostly civilians, and over 10,000 wounded, while Hamas attacks have also killed 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in the past four weeks.